Wednesday, September 19, 2012

One Chicken, Three Lives

Who is ready for a cooking adventure?!

I am working on trying to save money on food and to make sure that we aren't throwing away too much food. I don't exactly love leftovers, which makes this quite hard sometimes.

On Monday, I decided to maximize my rotisserie chicken. Sort of a personal challenge to see how many meals I could get out of it, for as little money as I could spend.

Hello chicken! You look juicy and delicious. Let's make the most of you.
First meal - we ate some of the chicken and I roasted some potatoes that I got from our CSA basket. The chicken was on sale for $5.99, which is a pretty good price, and the potatoes were free. Not bad. Especially since we ate less than a 1/4 of it for that meal.

Assembly line! Don't mind the messy kitchen!
I then pulled off the rest of the meat, and shredded it to make enchiladas, one of my go-to meals for leftover chicken. They are fairly easy to put together, and great for a busy week. I had an evening meeting on Tuesday night, so I prepped the pans, and left them for Chris to top with sauce/cheese and cook. I don't really use an enchilada recipe - it's something I've sort of just make up as I go. I typically mix the shredded chicken with shredded pepper jack cheese and add some green chiles. I heat the tortillas enough to wrap them (I used flour this time because Chris likes them, but I prefer corn). Then top with sauce and cheese and heat through until the cheese is melted in a 350-degree oven. Easy peasy. The only thing I would do differently next time is to season the chicken more.

For the cheese, sauce, tortillas, and canned chiles, I spent just $7.49. Plus we now have lots of tortillas for tacos, fajitas, etc. I was able to make 10 enchiladas out of the chicken, which should get us 4-5 servings. Thankfully, Chris likes taking leftovers for lunch. I am trying to learn from him.

Finally, this is where I got real crafty, making some stock. The thought of throwing chicken bones into a pot with some veggies and cooking - not something I have ever done before. But, I found some easy to follow directions on a great food blog - Budget Bytes. And with all of the veggies that we have from the CSA basket, it was a great way to use some of the scraps.

I started by collecting all of the chicken bones, skin, etc. from the rotisserie chicken and dumping that into the bottom of the pot. (Wasn't sure about the skin, but decided to give it a go). Then, threw in the tops and bottom from a celery bunch, the extra parts of a green pepper, a few garlic cloves, some leftover carrots, and some of the outermost layer of an onion. Then I topped this with water.

This made me think of that book - Stone Soup. Remember that one? 
One thing I did spend some money on for this part was a pack of poultry blend herbs, which were on sale for $1.99. I knew I had some thyme, but wasn't sure if it was still good. And I figured herbs could definitely help out the stock. I also bought some cheesecloth so I could make a little packet for the herbs. Total cost for the stock (not counting the chicken and veggies that I already had) - $6.67.

Good stuff. Much easier than buying each herb individually. 
 Once I got my pot to boil, I started to clean up. And then found this guy on my cutting board.

Hello! Hope you didn't bring any friends with you - don't really want them flavoring the stock. 
So here's the thing to know about making stock. It takes four hours to simmer. At least four hours. Don't start yours at 8 pm. Woops.

At about midnight, I strained out all of the bones, meat and veggies. Ta da!

What do you think? Should we eat this?
I had to do a second straining through a paper towel. That took awhile. Clearly I was using Bounty...

The finished product.
I managed to fill three of the big yogurt containers with stock, which all went right into the freezer. I will most likely use it for soups, maybe some other meals. I was too tired to try it at 12:30 am, but it did smell flavorful and delicious. Both cats were trying to climb onto the counter the whole time. I take it they approve.

Stock was much easier than I thought. You should give it a try. It felt pretty good to use all of the chicken. Waste not, want not. Right?

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